Five Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents: Muskegon Lawyer Provides Data

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Bicycle accidents occur everywhere, and instances are expected to rise as we enter into the spring season. What causes bicycle accidents to happen? One can come across many different explanations, depending on the incident, but most can fall under two categories:

    • Accident involving no one but the cyclist 
    • Accident involving both motorist(s) and cyclist(s)

The latter is often much more severe and would demand the attention of a bicycle accident attorney, especially if the accident causes injury to either party.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

While it is true that bicycle accidents are unforeseen and unplanned, many accidents are preventable. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), preventable bicycle accidents increased to 16% during the 2020 pandemic. It is a 44% increase in the last ten years, from 873 in 2011 to 1,260 in 2020.

Let’s take a look at the five most common causes of bicycle accidents:

Getting Hit By A Vehicle

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), colliding with a vehicle remains at the top of the list for most common causes of bicycle accidents. It is advised for all bicyclists to stay inside the bike lane to reduce the odds of being struck by a vehicle.


Losing balance and falling off of a bicycle can happen to anyone regardless of the rider’s skill level. Some common factors can often result in a bicyclist losing control and falling, such as poor road conditions, running into or riding over a hard object, and unexpectedly swerving to avoid impact. 

Mobile Phone Distraction

Combining activities that require simultaneous focus can be a recipe for disaster – especially if the focus is divided between safely riding a bicycle and operating a mobile phone. Riders are encouraged to use a headset or earplugs if expecting an urgent call, or parking the bicycle in a safe space before engaging with a mobile device.

Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Cycling while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is, unfortunately, a very common (and preventable) cause for an accident. Riding a bike while impaired can interfere with basic motor skills and functioning, and influence poor decision making.

There are no specific “under the influence” laws for cycling in Michigan state. According to Michigan’s DUI statute, the authorities can only arrest you if you operate a motorized vehicle under the influence. 

Here’s a table showing states with DUI laws on bicycles:

State Does DUI Apply to Bicycles?
Alabama Yes
Alaska No
Arizona No
Arkansas No
California No
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware No
District of Columbia Yes
Florida Yes
Georgia Yes
Hawaii Yes
Idaho Yes
Illinois No
Indiana Yes
Iowa No
Kansas No
Kentucky No
Louisiana No 
Maine No
Maryland Yes
Massachusetts No
Michigan No
Minnesota No
Mississippi Yes
Missouri No
Montana No
Nebraska No
Nevada No
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey No
New Mexico No
New York No
North Carolina Yes
North Dakota Yes
Ohio Yes
Oklahoma No
Oregon Yes
Pennsylvania Yes
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina No
South Dakota Yes 
Tennessee No
Texas Yes
Utah Yes
Vermont No
Virginia No
Washington No
West Virginia No
Wisconsin No
Wyoming Yes


Careless Lane Shifts

Along with motorists, bicyclists must also be conscious about shifting lanes and avoiding collisions. Bike lanes were designed primarily to keep bicyclists at a safe distance away from traffic. Failure to stay in the bike lane for a bicyclist can result in an accident.

Fatal Bicycle Accidents Overview

Sometimes the bicyclist, or motorist, can overestimate or underestimate their environment and situation while on the road. Poor judgment and human error, unfortunately, can result in a fatal accident, especially when a motor vehicle is involved.

Accidents Involving Another Vehicle Causes

The majority of these bicycle accidents involve another vehicle – and the outcome could be fatal.

    • Speeding and reckless driving
    • Failure to signal bicyclists
    • Drifting into a bike lane
    • Moving too close without a buffer
    • Failure to give way

Bicycle Statistics

Statistics revealed by the NHTSA include:

    • Bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    • One in four fatal bike crashes involved a cyclist under the influence of alcohol
    • In 2019, 78% of bicyclist deaths occurred in urban areas and 22% occurred in rural areas
    • Male fatalities were six times higher than female in 2019

Outside Magazine shared some interesting facts:

    • 846 cyclists were killed in 2019 due to road accidents, while the number reduced to approximately 675 in 2020
    • The highest number of bicycle deaths occurred during the warmer months from May to August in 2020
    • Hit-and-run accidents were the leading cause of bicycle fatalities in 2020

Most Fatal Bike Accidents Involve What Type of Injury?

According to American Family Physician (, head injuries account for 22% to 47% of cycling injuries in the US, and 60% of all bike-related deaths are associated with serious head injuries. If the bicyclist survives, that person may be susceptible to permanent disabilities. This statistic alone is responsible for why helmets are necessary and encouraged when cycling.

Infographic of the most fatal injury in a bike accident

How to Prevent Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists and Motorists

Bicyclists need to prepare before hitting the road. Some helpful tips to avoid bicycle accidents as a cyclist or one who drives an automobile:

    • Stay focused and alert at all times

Don’t be distracted by your gadgets. Be aware of your surroundings.

    • Drive defensively

Avoid road rage with other motorists. Obey traffic laws at all times – even when no one is looking.

    • Improve your riding skills

If you are not so confident about your riding skills, you may opt for off-road where there are fewer motorists.

    • Wear an appropriate outfit and safety gear and have the right bike size

Your attire is important! In addition to wearing knee pads, elbow pads, and a properly fitted helmet, also consider wearing brightly colored clothes and gear so that motorists can see you at a distance. 

Get in Touch With an Expert Bicycle Accident Lawyer Now!

It is time to be fully compensated if you or a loved one suffered long-term disabilities due to the recklessness of another person. Get a simple, quick, and free consultation from the proven-and-tested bicycle accident lawyers at  Shafer Swartz PLC!

With over 95 years of experience, Muskegon Personal Injury Attorneys provide legal services to help you win the court battle for physical injury claims. Call (231) 722-2444 or contact us here.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as legal advice. Every situation is different, and if you have been injured, please call (231) 722-2444 for personalized legal advice.